Criticism in Controversy

Statistics and perspectives on the decline in newspaper coverage of the arts

The Columbia Journalism Review has published a thought provoking piece by Boston’s Jeb Gottlieb, former music and theater writer for the Boston Herald. In a section he titled “the end of the age of the critic” Gottlieb provides statistics on the decline of full time...

Better Living through Criticism

“Everyone in this world has someone else whom he can look down on,” wrote George Orwell in 1946, “and I must say, from experience of both trades, that the book reviewer is better off than the film critic, who cannot even do his work at home.” Now, of...

Criticism is free speech

“In reference to the recent Wooster Group/Harold Pinter situation in Los Angeles and scattered reports of troubling analogs around the country, the American Theatre Critics Association strongly reaffirms our bedrock tenet that arts criticism is journalism,” stated Wm. F. Hirschman, chair, ATCA executive committee. Harold Pinter (1930-2008): What...

McNulty on why we do what we (should) do

Sometimes we post essays about criticism in the right-hand column. But this piece by Charles McNulty for the LA Times earrents the front page.  Charles McNulty Nowadays, he says, “criticism isn’t always readily distinguishable from the salesmanship and hype that have corrupted not just our politics but the arts,...

Bitter Lemons raises basic issues, and hackles, too

The website Bitter Lemons now allows theaters to pay to be reviewed. You can get an overview on the commentary in the LA Times and an account in opposition in the LA Weekly.  Speaking for the ATCA excom, chair Bill Hirschman has said: “The American Theatre Critics’ Association, the only national organization...

Are theater critics becoming extinct?

The proverbial Dodo Obviously, no, not yet. In fact, we’re proliferating on the web. (Many thoughts, here, from an international view.) But here’s a recent, articulate lament. And for many more views, scroll down, look to the right column, etc. Critics spend as much time debating what...

Couple of Critical Controversies

Sarasota’s Asolo Rep was slapped down by Brian Friel for making significant changes in “Philadelphia, Here I Come,” as reported by Jay Handelman (Sarasota Herald-Tribune). In “Who Thinks It’s OK to ‘Improve’ Playwrights’ Work?,” Howard Sherman points out the issues are legal as well as moral and aesthetic. In the debate over...

Controversies: text changes and play to movie.

Sarasota’s Asolo Rep was slapped down by Brian Friel for making significant changes in “Philadelphia, Here I Come,” as reported by Jay Handelman (Sarasota Herald-Tribune). In “Who Thinks It’s OK to ‘Improve’ Playwrights’ Work?,” Howard Sherman points out the issues are legal as well as moral and aesthetic. In the debate over...

Michael Feingold: ‘Critic and Worker’

It’s a paradigm: Michael Feingold, one of the very finest American theater critics (George Jean Nathan Award, twice a Pulitzer finalist) loses his tenured (one would have thought) seat at the Village Voice and reappears with a twice-monthly column in TheatreMania — print to web, the...

Regional theater awards

One of the best established of regional theater awards is undergoing soul-searching. TheatreWashington, which hosts the Helen Hayes Awards, recently convened a community meeting (some 150 participants) to discuss the awards’ future. A summary of the conversation ticks off many topics and points of view that will be recognizable...